The NFL's lowering of the helmet rule has been one of its most controversial since being adopted in 2018, and it appears to have been altered for the upcoming season.
Per the league's official 2022 rulebook, the rule now reads: “It is a foul if a player lowers his head and makes forcible contact with his helmet against an opponent.”
This changes things in a couple of ways. One, the addition of the word "forcible." And two, there's no longer a requirement for the player to "initiate" the contact.
The word "initiate" was reportedly a source of contention for the league as it made it harder for fines to stick to players, as they could argue that their lowering of the helmet was in response to a ballcarrier/tackler.
The rule was originally adopted as a player safety measure not too long after the NFL's concussion crisis.
The altered rule will get its first test run with the preseason opener right around the corner.